September 2018


Years before my mother died (of a heart attack) she was diagnosed with high cholesterol and placed on medication. She made us all nuts with her dietary concerns and her most frequent assessment of food choices was, “If it tastes good, spit it out.”

I do not want to be like my mother in this respect. I’m now pre-diabetic and feel like I’ve been totally betrayed by a body that is not living up to its potential. Here I sit, having never smoked, never been drunk, being of normal weight, and killing myself at the gym four to five times a week and still, this shit happened. What sort of Karma is working here? This seems like anti-Karma, if you ask me. I followed the rules and it didn’t matter.

I’m trying to be good rule follower still. It’s sorta what I do. Here’s a rule. Follow it. And then good things will happen. Obviously, I know that last part is not entirely true. But, I am still trying to follow the rules and that is where I’m running into massive information overload.

I’m supposed to be on a “low carb” diet and I have no freaking idea what that really means. It can mean anything from 50 grams of carbs per day up to 325 carbs per day. What the hell kind of range is that? It is impossible for me to figure this out and so I keep going to Google and it is being particularly unhelpful.

One of the first things I read was what foods to avoid or cut back on. Fruits in limited supply were okay but melon was just awful. So were bananas. Berries were on the okay list as were apples and pears. Fruits with a seed – not so much. Today, while looking at more stuff, a list of approved fruits for a low carb diet had watermelon listed as the first thing. What fresh new hell is this? (I love Dorothy Parker.) And apples weren’t all that great for this list.

Eat this and not that turns into eat that and not this. I’ve never been particularly interested in diets and food regimens and mostly just let registered dieticians do their thing without me being involved. I know that as a nurse, I’m probably supposed to know this shit, but I worked OR for most of my career and those people aren’t eating anything.

So I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and I’m having a terrible time trying to figure it out for myself. There are millions of hits for any query I make and they all disagree with one another. I’m unable to find even the most basic answer – how many carbs is a low carb diet? Well, your answer may vary.

Then, what do I do about CrossFit? What do I do with carb loading? What do I do for a pre-workout? How do I manage this new not-normal and make it become my new normal?

I have never been on daily medication unless it has been a 7-10 run of antibiotics. Then, I set an alarm to remind myself to take a pill because I forget. Now I have to remember to take a pill with my main meal every single day and I’ve nearly forgotten two times in less than a week. I have my pill case next to my coffee cup so when I make my postprandial coffee, there it is and I take the pill which is technically still with my meal. Really, I just have to take this pill on a not empty stomach, so I’m following that rule okay.

It’s just that I don’t even really know how to deal with this because I don’t even have a foundational place to start. I’m lost without a map.

My doctor’s advice was not to cut out any foods and cut back on pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread. Eating veggies before high carb foods helps, so having a salad before spaghetti helps with the whole process. And having only half the pasta will help, too. Some of this I can manage. Some of this is just too ephemeral for a person who desires rigid boundaries. I need to know when I’m too far outside these fuzzy edges and it is driving me crazy. I know I’ve been at this for less than a week and I will eventually be able to really incorporate this stuff into my regularly scheduled life.

I crave answers and Google is only giving me more questions, more confusion, and less clarity overall. I’m not good in this place. I need a map. I need direction. I need answers. Come on, Google, that’s your job.

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What the board says: Partner WOD.

What my brain sees: I’m going to screw up someone’s workout.

Team WODs just mean I’m going to screw up even more people. I know it is really awesome that I get out there and attempt to do the things. There are a number of things I have actually learned how to do since I began CrossFit, albeit at low weights. And there are still a number of things I cannot do and no matter how much I’m told that “can’t” doesn’t exist inside the box, I still can’t do those things.

Today’s WOD began with seven minutes of synchronized burpees. And the panic set in. I didn’t even really register the rest of the shit for a few minutes because I was agonizing over who was going to get stuck with me trying to do seven minutes of burpees.

We started the warm-up and there were an odd number of people. Then someone came in and then I saw another new face. By the time we were warm, I was hoping against hope that there were an odd number of people. There weren’t. I was going to ruin someone’s day.

There simply aren’t a lot of people like me at the gym. They are younger, fitter, faster, better. I’m like Rudy or something. They let me play, but there is no pretending that I’m keeping up with anyone. I’m just there, in the way.

I hate feeling like this. I hate even more being like this. I want to be so much more. I would like to be fitter, faster, better. Hell, I would even mind being a bit younger. But I’m not. I’m me. Old and feeble and slow and not so good. But I try. Sorry, Yoda.

The partner barbell carry for a quarter mile was simply not in my wheelhouse. My partner, bless her soul, carried a much heavier kettlebell while I had a much lighter one and we walked the distance.

The toes to bar were done in sets of five and neither one of us could do more than knees to elbows, and I did one set of that and then one set of laying on the ground and kicking my feet over my head up to the wall. With that, I could get my heart rate down to allow me to get on to the next set.

She ran; I walked half the distance. And then we were onto clean and jerks with my bar being lighter. I could do four before my heart rate was too high and I could get it back to something okay to start again while she did six.

With scaling and with Laura’s help, it was made possible even for me, the short bus person. I just hate to limit the person I work with. My scores are always crap and I’ve gotten used to that. I try to not even worry about the white board because it isn’t really meant for me. But when someone comes to the gym looking for a workout, it seems patently unfair for them to get stuck with me.

I know I have the option of staying home. That seems worse. I just always hope for an odd number of people so I can just be pitiful all by myself, off in a corner, trying not to die.

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My mom: “Who told you life was fair?”

Life isn’t fair. It never has been. But it remains quite popular despite this drawback.

I was born in America. Wasn’t that lucky? Billions of people are born into abject poverty even today and 65 years ago, it was even more. I was born into a First World country with modern medicine that kept me from dying before my second birthday. I also had clean water and electricity. How unfair.

I am smart. Well, smarter than average. I’m to the right of the bell curve by an order of magnitude. I learn easily. How lucky is that? As math tells us, half of the world is below that median point and I am not part of that half, but way over there on the right where it is easy to learn new things. I won that lottery, too.

I am strong. While not exceptionally coordinated, I was not the worst kid on the playground and didn’t get chosen last. I was able to excel at racquetball and now can accomplish remarkable things with CrossFit all because I have an internal strength of will and an external means of coping. Not all people are this lucky.

I have a wonderful family. I married well. My children are successful adults. My grandchildren are all just as cute as a basketful of kittens or puppies. They are delightful. I have two wonderful sisters. My in-laws are also not just tolerable, but enjoyable. My nieces and nephews are also all successful adults.

I have all these good things in a world where there is so much awful stuff. Life is unfair. I’ve been blessed beyond measure and think it is just my due, but in fact, it is sheer dumb luck that my life is so wonderful.

So why the hell am I whining?

I’ve lived a life full of “better” choices. I have never been drunk. (There is a post back there somewhere about my alcoholic father which explains that choice.) I have never used street drugs. I tried to smoke once as a teenager and it made me puke, and that was so uncool, I decided smoking wasn’t for me. I have maintained a normal body weight/BMI.

For most of my life I have been at least somewhat active. I played racquetball, I went to Curves, I did water aerobics, I walked and walked and rode my bike, I started CrossFit.

And despite all these things, going to the doctor was (in my mind) disastrous. My blood pressure was too high, my cholesterol was too high, my blood sugar was too high. All I really wanted to know was if my crooked back could be helped by a chiropractor, and I still don’t have that answer.

I took my blood pressure here at home and kept track for weeks. When not at the doctor’s office and when not stressing about a hurricane that didn’t happen, my blood pressure is it’s normal hypotensive self, or on the low side. So that’s okay.

My cholesterol was only slightly high and the good HDL number was beautifully high but not too high, just right in the middle of the high part. The LDL was too high too, but we are waiting on that account.

The real problem is my blood sugar level. I’m not exactly diabetic, but I’m not exactly not. I’m edging up to there and so have been placed on some medication. I’m supposed to stay away from high glycemic index foods, or basically all the easy to cook and tasty stuff. Limit bread, pasta, potatoes, and for some odd reason melons are on that list.

I have to adjust my cooking. I’m not that fond of it anyway, and now my easy to do and often cooked meals are on the “limit” list. I liked it better limitless. But here we are. I did all the right things all my life and yet … shit happens. The doctor helpfully pointed out that if I had drank, smoked (legal or not) and been a couch potato, all this would have happened much sooner and I’m still in a better place because I made the better choices. Today, it doesn’t really feel like that. But, who ever told me life was fair?

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I’m not a big fan of partner or team workouts. I always feel like I’m dragging the other people down with my slower, older self. I understand I am an outlier in the CrossFit world and it is just the way it is. Other people should be able to have the expectation of not being saddled with some old fart person for a workout.

For months now, our Thursday workouts have been a partner or team event. Saturday is also usually a partner event. I go anyway. I’m sorry people get stuck with me and I do my best to not hold anyone back. But I know I do.

We went out of town for a few days and so I missed today’s workout at my own gym. I was rather giddy at the thought of missing a team workout.

Instead, I went to Conviction Training Facility and participated there. When I say that CTF is my son’s gym, I don’t mean that it is the place where he works out. I mean he is the owner/operator of the gym. It is, in a very real sense, my son’s gym. And they know me there.

I have volunteered for a number of events and participated in a few things there. They know I’m old enough to be Craig’s mom since I am Craig’s mom.

I got there today, late! I hate late. But I gave myself what I thought was more than enough time to get there, but rush hour traffic was worse than I had anticipated. So I showed up late and they were already warming up. Craig had let them know I was coming so it wasn’t a total surprise. The late part was a surprise – for all of us.

They were warming up and so I joined in and only after there was a break in that did I go to the board and look. It was a team WOD. Dear sweet Jesus. It is bad enough when I have to inflict myself on people who know me, but this … this was just sad.

A woman who recognized me as Craig’s mom asked if I would like to join her team. I really wanted to run away, but I said I would. I then explained that I rowed interminably slow, had never swung a sledgehammer, and did ring rows instead of pull-ups. They didn’t care.

On the first row, I could manage a respectable time for my distance, but that’s because I started with a heart rate that was normal and it wasn’t going to get back down to that until the end of the class. So for subsequent rows, I would take longer.

Swinging a sledgehammer was both fun and awkward, especially left handed. But after a bit, I got a better rhythm and seemed to flow better. It was never a beautiful fluid movement, but it wasn’t as choppy or uncoordinated the more I did.

I’m grateful to the lovely women who let me play today. I had a lot of fun. I’m also sorry to all my partners since I first started this. I know there are people who go out of their way to make sure I can’t somehow get partnered with them. I realize I mess up the scoring, but I’m also often a bit hurt by the idea that it is so horrible to occasionally have a bad score – since I have one every single time I show up.

To those who willingly take me on, I thank you. To those who will pick up my slack, I’m eternally grateful. I wish I didn’t feel guilty about it.

The gym was open last Tuesday, but only until 6 PM and then, because we were under a mandatory evacuation, it was closed until further notice.

On Wednesday, we did a lot of preparing for a storm and moving things around the house. And then we waited and waited.

We watched as the storm tracked farther north and away from us and were grateful we would be safe, knowing that put others in danger in our stead. But there you have it. I’m very sorry for all the people who were truly affected by Florence and am really glad we weren’t among them.

We were supposed to get deluged on Saturday so on Friday I took a nice long walk through the neighborhood. Then on Saturday morning, before it began to rain, we took a 5K walk and I may be the only person in the world to get sunburned during a hurricane.

On Sunday, after the storm was evidently not going to bother us, I went off for another walk. I wore shoes I had worn before, but this time, about a mile away from the house, I started to get a blister on my right heel. I tried walking funny, but that hurt my back so I eventually just took the shoe and sock off and walked a mile with one shoe on and one shoe off. I’m sure I was a visual treat for all those who saw me. I didn’t call home because I didn’t bring a phone with me.

The gym opened yesterday at noon, but there I was, already showered and with one very sore foot, so I successfully ignored that. However, I go to the gym on Monday and at least the bottom of my foot seems to be fine. I had to put a Band-Aid over the blister, but I was able to get out of the house and back to the gym.

It was heavenly. I have gotten used to being beaten up by workouts written for people half my age. I have learned how to scale them back so that I can manage to get them done and not die. I know my limitations and work around them to the best of my ability.

The deadlifts today were supposed to be heavy and I did the percentage on the board. But … I did them off my current max weight. I tried (and tried and tried) to get 150# up when we were seeing what our max was to start this series. I’ve done heavier, but I could not, no matter how hard I tried, get that off the floor. I got 145# up with great difficulty so my weight today was 130# and I did that. Then, on the last set I did 140# because it was sitting there and then we decided some math for another person may have been wrong and so a 150# bar was sitting there at the very end, staring at me. I wanted to know if I was still a hot mess or if I could get the damn thing up. I got the damn thing up.

I discussed with the coach, what I should do for the workout. Burpee over the box jumps aren’t really anything I do. I usually do a plank burpee (taking the push-up out of it) and walk it in and out, to boot. I can then string them together, with one deep breath in between each, and manage to get them done.

I was willing to put the push-up back in, but then doing 45 of them with the over the box thing as well, was looking a bit iffy. So the deal was, I would do half but put the push-up in.

The whole 21-15-9 thing is a total of 45 and it is the middle round that is so obnoxious. I always cut runs and rows in half because I’m old and cranky and I don’t want to spend my entire workout time doing cardio when my cardiologist doesn’t particularly like my heart rate too high. My deal was to do half. I did 11-8-5 calorie rows and then 10 walked in and out but with the push-up included burpee over the box which was a bench that is 18 inches high (which means I can do it without my knee brace). Then, in a fit of over achieving, I opted to jump the burpees in and out for the 8 and 5 rounds. I managed half of the 8 and had to rest because my heart rate was too high and then when I got to the last ones, after four it was still too high, but what the hell, there was only one left. I did it and finished.

It felt great to get back to the gym. It was wonderful to get some heavy deadlifts in. I don’t mind the runs and rows and assault bike crap because I know this is part and parcel of the whole deal and I am an outlier so, I just know I do half and then get a “Modified” on the board, even though it might be RX for Senior Citizens.

I could have done my 80% of the burpees without the push-ups included, and I probably would have had about the same time because I can just keep going. The jumping spikes my heart rate but I was feeling a bit edgy from too many days of doing essentially nothing. So I risked it. The reward was worth it. I finished right in the middle of the pack, where I like to be. I know I scaled too much if I’m the first one done and I know I was too proud to cut back if I’m struggling to finish after everyone else is already home with breakfast eaten. So, I did it right again.

It was good to be back. I’m used to this stuff now and I miss it when it goes away.

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A friend of mine posted this today: “I am not marking myself safe for a hurricane I wasn’t in.’

Facebook keeps letting me know I can mark myself as safe after the hurricane. The hurricane did cause some damage locally with a few dropped trees here and there on coastal islands and right on the shore. In our own neighborhood, one of the trees that tend to fall over after a hummingbird passes was on the ground. Other than that, there was little to nothing out there.

I understand that Florence was a category 4 storm for part of the time. I understand the meteorology is an inexact science. I understand that we are lucky the storm dissipated some before striking land. I understand that television isn’t for the consumer, but is a vehicle for advertising. I understand that a crisis is more exciting than simple weather.

I understand all these things and yet, I was nervous and uncertain and not sure I made the correct choice several days ago. I did. I didn’t let the fear mongers on the TV cloud my own judgment. The local weather reporters had us watching because they are local and had no need to make this storm “The Storm of the Decade” or anything. They just reported on the weather as one of their stories, not as THE story.

I’m not sure why the governor doesn’t understand Zones that the state put in place, but South Carolina is not one of the smartest states in the nation. I think we are way down on the “smart” list and very near the bottom. But making people who were safe evacuate made it more difficult for the people who really were not safe. Those on the west side of my county who could have stayed home were taking up space from those nearer the ocean or more north and in the messy part of the hurricane.

We have been inundated with fake news to the point where all of journalism is simply considered to be biased, yellow in color, and unreliable. There is no trusted news source today. They are all just advertisers. And that puts us all at risk.

The storm was coming and it was going to make landfall somewhere. And the science isn’t good enough to accurately tell, way in advance, exactly where that landfall will take place. Erring on the side of caution is all well and good until the error makes it even more difficult for the people who actually need to evacuate find they now have no rooms at the  inn.

I’m grateful that we didn’t get anything more than a little rain, little being the operative word there, and some winds, not any more than in any thunderstorm passing by. I’m sorry for the people in the path of the storm. I’m even sorrier still that I live in time and place where no one seems to have read the fable about The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Every time you overstate the case of an emergency, there is less of a chance that the next warning will be heeded. This will not end well. But the advertising dollars rolled in for days and days and there must be something really good about that.

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Landfall prediction for Hurricane Florence

I’m waiting, not for Godot, but for Florence. I’ve been waiting for what seems like a long time now. I’m in an evacuation county of South Carolina, but instead of noticing that my county ranges from near coastal to pretty far inland, the governor just noticed that coastal part. The county was divided into zones for a reason, and reasonable people would see that.

Parts of the next county, Orangeburg, are closer to the ocean than where I live in Dorchester, and they are deemed safe. This does not make any sense to me. At all.

We have watched Florence and decided to stay put. I know the government means well, but if you can’t figure out the system you put into place, it’s not boding well for my ability to now trust your judgment over my own. And so I sit and wait.

Much has been said of the idiots in New Orleans who didn’t leave. But even as we speak, the Weather Channel is churning out disaster twenty-four hours a day even though the weather is mostly not that disastrous. When it is, it is really bad. I understand that. But a “news” channel is built, not for our benefit, but for the advertisers and disaster sells. Big time. The more eyes, the better. And when your only news is weather, it needs to be big to get eyes.

I understand about storm surges. I also live farther inland than even a tsunami can reach. I understand that we are going to get wind and rain and there could be flooding. I understand that everyone wants me to be safe. I want me to be safe, too.

And so we have taken lots of precautions. We have lanterns and a camp stove in case we lose power. We also have a battery radio. We have proper food and water. We have prepared the house, too. And we have listened to both local weather and the national weather. The catastrophic destruction is possible, but it seems highly unlikely to take place here.

This sitting and waiting is difficult. I don’t know for certain, 100% certain, that we made the right choice. I’m 95% sure, however. So I’m here. I’m waiting and wondering. I hope I chose wisely. I won’t know for days to come.

I feel like news agencies forgot to read or understand “The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf”. I also don’t think they understood the destructive force of “fake news” and how it erodes trust.

For now, all is quiet on the eastern front. I’ll stay in touch.

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